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Travel shows are exactly what you might expect: hundreds of tourism representatives handing out brochures and touting their destinations to the public. In the days before the Web, they were great sources of information, a one-stop clearinghouse for travelers seeking the scoop on locales both foreign and domestic. But even now, they can be a boon, as attendees can actually question real, live people about hotel recommendations in Bali or the best sailing tours of New Zealand. Most feature speakers, entertainment and “travel show only” deals— so bring your credit cards. Here’s the rundown on upcoming shows in the mid-Atlantic: 

Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, Jan. 14 and 15, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Center City Philadelphia. Guest speakers include Arthur Frommer, actor-cum-travel writer Andrew McCarthy and the “Travel Troubleshooter” Christopher Elliott.  http://www.inquirertravelshow.com

The New York Times Travel Show, March 2-4, Javits Convention Center, New York City. The biggest show on the circuit, with more than 500 locales represented. http://www.nyttravelshow.com

Washington, D.C. Travel and Adventure Show, March 17 and 18, Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Attendees can try Scuba diving in an 18,000-gallon pool, slide down a zip line or take part in a fiery foods challenge. Guest speakers include Samantha Brown from The Travel Channel and Patricia Schultz, author of “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” http://www.adventureexpo.com

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